The banking and finance industries have been amongst the hardest hit during the current global financial crisis. Thousands of positions have been made redundant since financial institutions started scaling back in early 2008, and many more positions are in danger as cost-cutting, consolidation and outsourcing continue to ravage the industry.
But don’t rule out a career in finance or banking just yet. There are still sectors which are surviving or even thriving – some because of, rather than in spite of, the global financial crisis.
There are many areas of banking and finance where jobs are still in demand, according to Simon Mortlock of banking and financial career site eFinancialCareers.
Superannuation is considered one of the most secure areas of financial services, and the least affected by redundancies. Job-seekers with superannuation experience, from fund administration to fund accounting, are still in demand. However, super funds are now tending to fill positions internally, so that means fewer opportunities for external applicants.
For those already in the business, changing times sometimes mean a change in role. For example, sales staff may move to member-education or relationship management roles to help train and retain existing clients, rather than getting new ones.
The life insurance industry is experiencing a boom – there are actually more job opportunities now than before the financial crisis. As Australians become increasingly concerned about the economy and seek to protect their existing wealth, they are taking out more policies – and creating more jobs in the process. Jobs are opening up across the various types of organisations which sell life policies, and these institutions are hiring for a wide range of roles – from front-line salespeople to underwriters and business development managers.
Insolvency and fraud specialists are in demand as companies fold and dodgy dealings are uncovered in both small and large organisations. This is an unfortunate reflection of the times, but will at least keep specialists in these areas in work. Forensics, which deals with fraud prevention, is a particular hot spot in the financial services universe, as firms expand their forensics teams.
The area of compliance, which ensures compliance with the laws, rules and standards that govern banking activities, is expected to experience strong demand over the coming year as new rules and regulations are introduced. According to Brad Shotland, Associate Director, Financial Services, Michael Page Finance, ‘Professionals who stay abreast of developments and master newly introduced compliance regulations will be well positioned for job opportunities in 2009.’
Transactional banking, involved in custom-tailoring banking services to meet the needs and wishes of individual clients, is also an area of resilience as staff are required to bring in additional funds and focus on deposits. According to Jane McNeill, Senior Regional Director of Hays Banking, ‘Relevant experience and [a] track record are essential for these roles.’
Accounting is another area of stability, with demand still strong for business analysts, management accountants and auditors. As reported in the 2009 Hudson Accounting & Finance Salary Guide, this is being driven by an increased focus on efficiency as companies look to improve business processes and minimise costs. Two other areas which could potentially generate demand for accountants are the Federal Government’s financial stimulus package, which may increase reporting requirements for some companies, and carbon trading.
The days of liberal lending are well and truly over, and banks are becoming far more stringent in the analysis and supply of credit for mortgages and interbank loans to make sure they don’t throw money to people who won’t be able to pay it back. ‘The role of credit departments has assumed greater importance and the additional workload has boosted hiring activity. We anticipate this trend will continue over the short term which bodes well for credit analysts/managers,’ says Brad Shotland, of Michael Page Finance.
Relationship managers with strong business development skills will be needed as banks shift their focus away from debt-related business to increasing their client base. ‘A strong sales focus and the ability to develop a healthy portfolio are desirable qualities in this market, so senior relationship managers and business development managers are consequently resilient roles. Banking experience and the knowledge of deal construction are critical to these jobs,’ says Jane McNeill, of Hays Banking.
Ironically, but not surprisingly in these uncertain times, risk management is one of the safest sectors in the banking industry. There should be continued demand in this area, with certain pockets experiencing growth.
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